How Did the Children in Need Charity Begin?

did-children-need-charity-begin Credit: Guernsey Sports/CC-BY-2.0

The BBC's Children in Need telethon began in 1980 as an effort to raise money for charities working with children. The BBC had previously broadcast appeals to benefit children without using the Children in Need name beginning on Christmas Day, 1927. Its appeals moved to TV in 1955 under the name "Children's Hour Christmas Appeal," which continued until 1979, raising £629,836 over the 25 years.

Children in Need proved significantly more successful than the BBC's previous appeals, raising £1 million in its first year. Originally the telethon consisted of short segments broadcast between regular TV programs. In 1985, Pudsey Bear joined the broadcast as a mascot; he remains a part of the Children in Need program as of 2014.

Also during the 1980s, Children in Need shifted into a new format in which it became a stand-alone TV program known as "Appeal Night," taking over in the place of the regularly scheduled evening programming. As of 2014, the Children in Need telethon covers an entire day of BBC programming every year in November, augmented by community fundraising events throughout the United Kingdom.

The 2012 Children in Need Appeal Night raised £26,757,446 as part of £43.3 million raised in 2012. Appeal Night in 2013 raised £31.1 million. Since Children in Need began, its telethons have raised over £700 million.